Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

American Cuisine Reading

by Nancy Freeman

introduction  |  cookbooks  |  reading

Smokestack Lightning
by Lolis Eric Elie
I haven't even read this book yet, but I already know I love it both from a skim and from the reviews. In part I've postponed reading it just to keep my salivary glands in check. There are recipes in the book, but mostly it's about bumming from state to state and city to city in search of great barbecue -- Texas, Tennessee, Chicago, St. Louis, Arkansas, the Carolinas. Barbecue and history, barbecue and politics, barbecue and sex -- you get the picture.

The Taste of America
by John L. Hess and Karen Hess
The Hesses make a convincing case that American food has been on a downward slide since the eighteenth century and when they originally wrote this book (1972) things were looking bleak. Beware of some vicious attacks on American culinary icons (James Beard, Craig Claiborne, Julia Child). Buy their position or not, the book is packed with information including the wealth and variety of early American food, the industrialization of the American market, and the decline of the small farmer.

American Food, The Gastronomic Story
by Evan Jones
This is my favorite kind of book, incorporating 200 pages of history and 300 pages of recipes. Excellent history of American food along with a well selected group of classical recipes from all over the country.

American Gourmet
by Jane and Michael Stern
An amusing account of the rise and fall of the gourmet movement in American eating beginning in the 1940's. Each chapter offers period recipes, most of them surprisingly good.

The Tummy Trilogy
by Calvin Trillin
Run, don't walk, to get your hands on anything by Calvin Trillin. The Tummy Trilogy is a compilation of three earlier Trillin books: American Fried, Alice, Let's Eat and Third Helpings. These in turn are compilations of articles from the New Yorker and other magazines. Find out why we should eat spaghetti carbonara at Thanksgiving instead of turkey and other historical profundities. I kept falling out of my seat on the train over this book. Don't miss it.

America Eats, Forms of Edible Folk Art
by William Woys Weaver
A fascinating book linking folk cooking to folk art. Weaver explains the concept of "groundedness" typical of the folk cook and explains how the loss of groundedness leads to "ethnic" cuisine. Lots of period recipes at the end of each chapter, many sounding delicious. I plan to try them.

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